From the beginning days of the rural electric cooperative program, a need had existed for local engineering support. Various consultants had provided these types of services to the Rushmore member distribution systems over the years, but by the late 1960s, it had become apparent that more timely and specialized support would be helpful.

As early as 1966, discussions with system managers Lorenzen, Curry and Morgan had evolved at the Rushmore level about the possibility of hiring a shared engineer, since the member systems were simply not big enough to support in-house engineering services. In 1971, several of the Rushmore distribution cooperative systems reached an agreement to begin and support operation of a self-supporting engineering department with offices located at Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative in Rapid City.

    Over time, the activities of the department have grown, more staff has been added and the name has evolved. Rushmore Engineering now provides consulting services for the following entities:

    • Black Hills Electric Cooperative
    • Butte Electric Cooperative
    • Cherry-Todd Electric Cooperative
    • Lacreek Electric Association
    • Rushmore Electric Power Cooperative
    • West Central Electric Cooperative
    • West River Electric Association
    • Mapping and Engineering Clients
    • Other non-member clients

    Department specialties include:

    • Autocad and ESRI Mapping
    • Distribution Line Design, Bidding & Construction
    • Electric Power System Analysis (Milsoft)
    • Power Cable Design, Construction, Testing & Operations Mgmt
    • RUS Construction Work Plans
    • RUS Long Range Plans
    • SCADA
    • Sectionalizing
    • Substation Design, Bidding & Construction
    • Telecommunications Design, Bidding, Construction & Operations
    • Transmission Line Design, Bidding & Construction
    • Work Order Inspection

    Rushmore Engineering maintains a corporate engineering registration for the states of Nebraska and South Dakota. Individual engineers are licensed for the states of Nebraska and South Dakota.

    Power engineering has grown to be a specialized science. With the growth of technologically based solutions and specialized computer programs, it has become increasing difficult for a single engineer or employee to have the depths of knowledge needed in all facets of power systems engineering. The department’s three engineers and five GIS technicians, each provide special areas of competence for the member clients.

    The department is responsible for the preparation of all needed studies, project plans and bid documents to the extent that staff resources permit. Some of the work, including system studies is project based; other activities such as mapping and sectionalizing remain ongoing and have no definite end time.

    Rushmore Engineering also performs work outside of the cooperative realm as permitted by schedule. Cable services and telecommunications planning are two examples of the non-client work often performed by Rushmore Engineering personnel.